A search for an optical counterpart to the gravitational wave event GW151226

S. J. Smartt, K. C. Chambers, K. W. Smith, M.E. Huber, D. R. Young, T. -W. Chen, C. Inserra, D. E. Wright, M.D. Coughlin, L. Denneau, H. Flewelling, A. Heinze, A. Jerkstrand, E. A. Magnier, K. Maguire, B. Mueller, A. Rest, A. Sherstyuk, B. Stalder, A. S. B. SchultzC. W. Stubbs, J. L. Tonry, C. Waters, R. J. Wainscoat, M. Della Valle, M. Dennefeld, G. Dimitriadis, R. E. Firth, M. Fraser, C. Frohmaier, A. Gal-Yam, J. Harmanen, E. Kankare, R. Kotak, M. Kromer, I. Mandel, J. Sollerman, B. Gibson, N. Primak, M. Willman

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Abstract

We present a search for an electromagnetic counterpart of the gravitational wave source GW151226. Using the Pan-STARRS1 telescope we mapped out 290 square degrees in the optical i_ps filter starting 11.5hr after the LIGO information release and lasting for a further 28 days. The first observations started 49.5hr after the time of the GW151226 detection. We typically reached sensitivity limits of i_ps = 20.3-20.8 and covered 26.5% of the LIGO probability skymap. We supplemented this with ATLAS survey data, reaching 31% of the probability region to shallower depths of m~19. We found 49 extragalactic transients (that are not obviously AGN), including a faint transient in a galaxy at 7Mpc (a luminous blue variable outburst) plus a rapidly decaying M-dwarf flare. Spectral classification of 20 other transient events showed them all to be supernovae. We found an unusual transient, PS15dpn, with an explosion date temporally coincident with GW151226 which evolved into a type Ibn supernova. The redshift of the transient is secure at z=0.1747 +/- 0.0001 and we find it unlikely to be linked, since the luminosity distance has a negligible probability of being consistent with that of GW151226. In the 290 square degrees surveyed we therefore do not find a likely counterpart. However we show that our survey strategy would be sensitive to NS-NS mergers producing kilonovae at D
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L40
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal. Letters
Volume827
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2016

Bibliographical note

Submitted to ApJL on 6th June 2016. Accepted on 8th August 2016. This is the accepted version after referee report and minor revisions

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